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Sarkozy to visit Joan of Arc's (supposed) birthplace on anniversary of her birth

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French President Nicolas Sarkozy is to visit eastern France next week to mark the supposed 600th anniversary of the heroine of French resistance to the English, Joan of Arc. British Prime Minister David Cameron is not thought to have been invited.

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Sarkozy is to spend about 20 minutes in Domrémy, a village in the Vosges region, where he will visit the house where Joan of Arc is said to have been born and unveil a plaque there, according to local papers.

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He will spend more time in Vaucouleurs, the town where Joan started her campaign to drive the English out of France and place Charles VII on the throne.

Accompanied by Culture Minister Frédéric Mitterrand and Defence Minister Gérard Longuet, whose parliamentary seat is in the region, Sarkozy will visit a museum dedicated to the sainted heroine and the Porte de France, from which she is supposed to have launched her offensive.

A roundtable with historians will follow.

That item on the agenda may prove problematic, however.

The majority of experts do not believe Joan was born in the house where the president will have unveiled a plaque earlier in the day and some doubt she started her anti-English campaign at the Porte de France.

The French political party that makes most on Joan of’Arc’s symbolic value is Marine Le Pen’s Front National, which stages an annual rally at the foot of her statue in Paris on 1 May.

At four months from a presidential election, Sarkozy’s trip is being interpreted as a bid to appeal to the far-right electorate – one among many, according to his Socialist opponents.

After his clash with British Prime Minister David Cameron over plans to save the euro, Sarkozy may feel some nostalgia for a time when the French took decisive action against perfidious Albion.

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